I really look forward to my twice weekly swim. It’s been a nice change of pace from the grind I put in on the machines in the fitness center. While I have been working on the Couch to 5K and feeling very proud of not passing out after fifteen minutes, I definitely feel stronger after getting in a good swim.
What I also enjoy about swimming is the camaraderie that comes with suiting up. Just like with membership on any team, you become privy to inside jokes, sport related jargon and things that irritate life long swimmers (i.e. poor lane sharing etiquette, not knowing the difference between circle and split, choosing the appropriate lane for your skill level, etc.).
The other day, I was talking with some ladies in the locker room, doing a post-swim debrief, as it were. We were comparing the number of laps we do, the amount of time it takes us, the variety we throw into the routines and so forth. One lady mentioned how she was having a slow day, so she only did backstroke for several lengths.
“Well, is a length equal to a lap?” I asked. “I go down the lane and come back. Is that a lap or a length?”
“Ohhhh!” another woman chimed in, “they’re totally different!”
And with that, I learned the difference between a lap, a length, the pros and cons of fins, and secrets related to swimming. A lap, I was told, was the distance down the lane and back again. If you end where you started, that’s one lap. A length, on the other hand, is the swimming the length of the pool one time. 32 laps or 64 lengths is equal to one mile. I had been doing several drills in 10 rep increments for a total of 30 laps, which is 60 lengths, and just a touch short of one mile. My first set of 10 laps involved me doing the backstroke with fins down and the crawl or freestyle, with fins, back. The second set of 10 laps found me doing backstroke, without fins. Finally, I alternated backstroke and freestyle, no fins for 10 laps (freestyle on the odd, backstroke on the even). It’s been working well for me; I come out of the pool thoroughly exhausted and feeling like a million bucks.
After comparing notes with the other swim ladies, they urged me to just suck it up and tack on another 2 laps (or would that be 4 lengths) to reach that mile. One super eager swim supporter followed it up by saying that by doing so, I’m practically triathlon ready! Slow down there, Speed Racer. I’m doing laps, but I have to pause for the cause between lengths, adjust the goggles, and fast forward to the next upbeat song on my waterproof iPod. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating — The Hubs really gets Hubby of the year for gifting me with the waterproof iPod for Christmas. That little device is a game changer when it comes to helping me make it through the last few laps (or lengths). Of course, it’s easier to sing along when you’re doing backstroke as opposed to the freestyle. And let me tell you, nothing will get you stroking fast than that wicked beat from Black Skinhead by Kanye West (sidenote: the lyrics are bursting with expletives, so turn your speakers down). Those drums kick in and I’m all “Missy Franklin, who?!”
Maybe I am 1/3 triathlon ready. With the Couch to 5k program, I may just be 2/3 ready. Now to find someone with a bike. . .